Ryan Lochte

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Speedo USA, 3 other sponsors drop Lochte after Rio incident

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(AP) — Less than 24 hours after the close of the Rio Olympics, Ryan Lochte took a major financial hit Monday for a drunken incident he initially tried to pass off as an armed robbery.

In quick succession, four sponsors announced they were dumping the swimmer, who has since apologized and conceded that he embellished what happened during a now-infamous stop at a Rio gas station.

Swimsuit company Speedo USA, clothing giant Ralph Lauren and skin-care firm Syneron-Candela issued statements less than three hours apart, all with the same message: Lochte is out. Before the day was done, Japanese mattress maker airweave followed suit, essentially wiping out Lochte’s income away from the pool.

In addition, Speedo USA said $50,000 that would’ve gone to the 12-time Olympic medalist was being donated to Save The Children to benefit needy youngsters in Brazil.

“While we have enjoyed a winning relationship with Ryan for over a decade and he has been an important member of the Speedo team, we cannot condone behavior that is counter to the values this brand has long stood for,” the prominent swimsuit company said. “We appreciate his many achievements and hope he moves forward and learns from this experience.”

Ralph Lauren, which provided the Polo-branded attire worn by the U.S. team at the opening and closing ceremonies, said it would not be renewing the contract that provided Lochte with financial support leading up to Rio. The statement from airweave said it had a similar arrangement with the swimmer. Both stressed they would continue their support of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams.

Syneron-Candela offers a line of skin-treatment products that deal with issues such as wrinkle reduction.

“We hold our employees to high standards, and we expect the same of our business partners,” the company said.

Lochte issued a statement through his public relations firm thanking Speedo USA for its long support. He did not immediately address the other companies dropping their endorsements.

“I respect Speedo’s decision and am grateful for the opportunities that our partnership has afforded me over the years,” Lochte said.

Initially, Lochte said he and three teammates — Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen — were robbed after their taxi was pulled over by armed men posing as police just hours after the swimming competition ended in Rio de Janeiro.

That version quickly unraveled when police said the swimmers, who had attended a late-night party, never reported the incident to authorities and there was scant evidence of a robbery. Video surveillance emerged showing the athletes getting into a confrontation with armed security guards over alleged vandalism at the gas station when their taxi pulled over to let them use the restroom.

While there have been conflicting versions over whether the guards pulled their weapons on the swimmers, Lochte has since acknowledged he was highly intoxicated and that his behavior led to the confrontation, which resulted in the swimmers paying some $50 in U.S. and Brazilian currency before they were allowed to leave. The incident caused a furor in Rio, where street crime was a major issue heading into the games.

Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon, said he wasn’t surprised by the decision since most of Lochte’s marketing value was tied to campaigns prior to the Olympics.

“I would think it was an easy decision to cut ties now,” Swangard said. “For someone like Lochte, he’s really destroyed almost all of his short-term marketability. Brands can easily seek out other athletes for the next Olympic cycle.”

The financial costs of losing Speedo and Ralph Lauren are likely to be only the first sanctions that await Lochte, whose antics tarnished a powerful showing by the American team and dominating news away from the stadiums and arenas in the final days of the Rio Games.

Both the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Swimming have indicated that Lochte will be punished, perhaps endangering the 32-year-old’s hopes of competing in a fifth Olympics at Tokyo in 2020. He could also face criminal charges in Brazil, where the other swimmers were initially barred from leaving the country until they were interviewed by authorities.

Feigen wound up donating just under $11,000 to a Brazilian nonprofit sports organization to settle any potential legal action. Bentz issued a statement saying Lochte tore a sign off a wall at the gas station and got into a heated exchange with the security officers, though Bentz denied the swimmers did any damage to a locked bathroom as authorities alleged.

In the last of three interviews with NBC that included ever-changing accounts of the incident, Lochte apologized and acknowledged he “over-exaggerated the story.” He made a similar mea culpa to Brazil’s main broadcaster, Globo.

Long one of the most popular U.S. athletes, the laid-back swimmer is known for his trademark saying “Jeah!” and such antics as wearing diamond grillz on the medal stand and dying his hair a silvery color before the Rio Games. Lochte also starred in a short-lived reality television show after the 2012 Olympics.

For these games, he qualified in only one individual event, finishing fifth in the 200-meter individual medley, far behind longtime rival Michael Phelps. Lochte did help Phelps and the Americans win gold in the 4×200 freestyle relay.

U.S. swimmer Gunnar Bentz apologizes, offers details around Rio robbery story

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Gunnar Bentz, one of the four U.S. swimmers caught up in the alleged robbery scandal in Rio, has released a statement through the University of Georgia detailing the events of the night in question. Parts of Bentz’s account stand at odds with the story told by teammate Ryan Lochte. Here’s Bentz’s full statement.

“I want to offer a sincere apology to the United States Olympic Committee, USA Swimming, the extraordinary women and men of Team USA, and the University of Georgia. Being a member of the Olympic Swimming Team was an honor and a dream come true. The accomplishments of my teammates were awe-inspiring and I’m so pleased I got to see them up close. I regret this situation has drawn attention away from the Olympics, which have been hosted so incredibly well by Brazil and its citizens.

“While I am anxious to put this matter behind me and rejoin my Georgia teammates in classes, practices and competitions, I feel compelled to stress several key points.

1. I was never a suspect in the case from the beginning (Brazilian law enforcement officials saw me only as a witness).
2. I never made a false statement to anyone at any time.

“I also want to be forthright about the details of what transpired last Sunday. What follows is consistent with the account I gave to the Brazilian authorities when I was interviewed for the first and only time on Thursday in Rio de Janeiro:

“After attending an event with several swimmers from different nations, I left in a taxicab along with U.S. swimmers Jack Conger, Jimmy Feigen and Ryan Lochte around 6 a.m. On the way back to the Olympic Village, we pulled into a convenience store to use the restroom. There was no restroom inside, so we foolishly relieved ourselves on the backside of the building behind some bushes. There was a locked door out back and I did not witness anyone breaking it open. I am unsure why, but while we were in that area, Ryan pulled to the ground a framed metal advertisement that was loosely anchored to the brick wall. I then suggested to everyone that we needed to leave the area and we returned to the taxi.

“Two men, whom I believe to have been security guards, then instructed us to exit the vehicle. No guns were drawn during this exchange, but we did see a gun tucked into one of the guard’s waistband. As Jimmy and Jack were walking away from the vehicle, the first security guard held up a badge to me and drew his handgun. I yelled to them to come back toward us and they complied. Then the second guard drew his weapon and both guards pointed their guns at us and yelled at us to sit on a nearby sidewalk.

“Again, I cannot speak to his actions, but Ryan stood up and began to yell at the guards. After Jack and I both tugged at him in an attempt to get him to sit back down, Ryan and the security guards had a heated verbal exchange, but no physical contact was made.

“A man that I believe to be a customer approached us and offered to help as he spoke both English and Portuguese. Understandably, we were frightened and confused during this time. Through the interpreter, one of the guards said that we needed to pay them in order to leave. I gave them what I had in my wallet, which was a $20 bill, and Jimmy gave them 100 Reals, which is about $50 in total. They lowered the guns and I used hand gestures to ask if it was okay to leave and they said yes. We walked about a block down the street and hailed another taxi to return to the Village.

“Videos of this situation have been emerging the last several days. However, I am confident that some video angles have not been shown that would further substantiate my account. I also believe some scenes have been skipped over. Additionally, I would like to stress that our original taxi was not pulled over; the only occupants of the taxi were the four of us and the driver; and to my knowledge, there was no damage done to the door or the inside of the restroom.

“I am so thankful for the love and support of my family, my friends and my teammates during this time. Without question, I am taking away a valuable life lesson from this situation. In everything I do, I am representing my family, my country and my school. I will not take that responsibility lightly.”

The latest: Ryan Lochte releases apology statement on social media

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 10:  Ryan Lochte of the United States in the Men's 200m Individual Medley heat on Day 5 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 10, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images
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Trouble American swimmer Ryan Lochte has released a statement in response to reports that he and three swimmers created a fake robbery story to mask an embarrassing public display in Brazil.

Lochte, 32, says he “should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself and for that am sorry to my teammates, my fans, my fellow competitors, my sponsors, and the hosts of this great event.”

Lochte claimed he was robbed at gunpoint, but video footage showed the swimmer and three teammates had guns pointed at them by security guards after destroying property and urinating on a gas station. Brazilian police demanded an apology, and have one.

Read the full statement below from his Instagram page.

A photo posted by Ryanlochte (@ryanlochte) on